Category Archives: Authenticate

Amped Authenticate Update 9446: CameraForensics Integration, New Quantization Tables Database and Much More

We’ve just launched some pretty important additions to Amped Authenticate. Not only have we integrated it with CameraForensics, but we have also made some major improvements to the quantization tables in addition to many other internal improvements. Read below for the details.

CameraForensics Integration

The main purpose of Amped Authenticate is to verify if a picture is an original coming from a specific device or if it’s the result of manipulation using image editing software. One of the main tests to verify the file integrity is to acquire the camera that is assumed to be the one that has generated the photo (or at least the same model) and verify if the format is compatible with the file under analysis.

While this sounds easy in practice, many devices have so many different settings and because of this it can be challenging to recreate the same conditions. Furthermore, the camera is often not available.

What if we look on the web for pictures coming from a specific device? While we cannot, in general, guarantee the integrity of files downloaded from the web, we can triage them pretty easily and do a comparison with the image under analysis.

But how do you search for images on the web in an efficient manner? We have had “Search for Images from Same Camera Model…” in Authenticate for quite some time. It allows you to search on Google Images and Flickr, but the search is not always optimal, as it has to apply different workarounds to work efficiently in a forensic setting.

So, what if someone built a database of pictures on the web, optimized for investigative use, enabling you to instantly search for images coming from a specific device and with specific features such as resolution and JPEG quantization tables? Turns out the guys at CameraForensics did exactly this (and much more) and we partnered with them to provide a streamlined experience.

Let’s see how it works. Continue reading

Understanding how online services change images

During a recent workshop on image authentication, I ran a few practical sessions. One concentrated on the changes that online services and social media platforms make to the images that we upload. It turned out to be an interesting experiment that has had some structured research over the past few years.

These are excellent starting resources when developing any internal Standard Operating Procedure:

A Classification Engine for Image Ballistics of Social Data: https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.06347

A Forensic Analysis of Images on Online Social Networks: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6132891/

Why is this important?

Continue reading

Are Amped Software products validated or certified officially for forensic use?

We work in the field of forensic video analysis, which is generally intended as the analysis of the images themselves and their context in a legal setting. For this reason, our customers often ask us if our products are valid for court use and if they have been validated and certified. We have written this post as an answer to the most common questions related to this topic.

You can also download this as a PDF document here


What are the scientific foundations of Amped Software products?

All the processes implemented in our software follow the principles of scientific methodology. Any process follows these basic principles:

  1. Accuracy (Reliability): our tools and training program help users avoid processing errors caused by the implementation of an inappropriate tool or workflow and help mitigate the impact of human factors / bias.
  2. Repeatability: the same process, executed by the same user at a different time, must lead to the same result. The project format in Amped FIVE, for example, does not save any image data. Every time a project is reopened, all the processing happens again starting from the original data. In the event that a project file is lost or as a part of a validation or other test scenario, the same user can repeat the steps and settings, guided by the tool’s report, and achieve the same results.
  3. Reproducibility: another user with the proper competency, should be able to reproduce the same results. Amped FIVE generates a complete report detailing all the steps of the processing, the settings / parameters applied, a description of the algorithms employed in the processing and the scientific references for those algorithms (when applicable). In this way, another user, with a different tool set or by implementing the same algorithms, should be able to reproduce the same results. Given the huge number of implementation details and possible differences, it is not expected to produce a bit by bit copy of the results, but only to produce an image of similar informative content.

Additionally, we apply strict due diligence on the applicability of the algorithms for the forensic environment. Not every algorithm is, in fact, properly applicable in a forensic science setting. We cannot use algorithms which have a random component because they would not be reproducible and repeatable (when we do, we set a fixed seed for the random number generation) and we cannot use algorithms which “add” external data to the original, for example improving the quality of a face with information added from an average face. All information is derived from the actual evidence file.

We employ algorithms which have been validated by the scientific community through peer review, such as university textbooks, scientific publications, or conference papers. If for some specific task, there are not good enough algorithms available or we need to adapt existing algorithms, we describe the algorithm and attempt to publish them in scientific journals. Continue reading

Is that image authentic?

With digital images, people are starting to ask the question – “is it authentic?”

My first digital camera was probably around 1997/8 – that’s nearly 20 years ago! It was a Canon and stored its tiny images on a CF Card. It was pretty heavy and bulky, but a huge step up from the first Kodak prototypes of the 1970’s.

Those had to store an image onto a cassette tape!

In 1990, a few years before my first adventures into digital imaging, Adobe released Photoshop for the Mac.

Take a look at the digital photography timeline to learn more:

http://www.practicalphotographytips.com/practicalphotographytips/history-of-digital-photography.html

This little trip down memory lane has revealed that for over 25 years, people have been able to easily capture and edit digital images. We have reached a point where high-quality images can be captured quickly, edited, and then shared within a few clicks of a mouse or taps on a screen. It’s no wonder then, that during this digital generation, people have also learned how easy it is to change that picture for unlawful reasons.

You are, most likely, from within the investigative community, so you can probably think of many different reasons why someone would want to, ‘tell a different story’. A digital image can be manipulated to reinforce that story, and up until now, many people have trusted that image as being a true and accurate representation. Continue reading

New Amped Training schedule. Book your seat now!

We provide complete hands-on training courses on the use of our products at our Amped Software Training Labs in Italy and in the USA. For some countries, we can also arrange for in-house training at your organization. The purpose of the Amped Software training is to:

  • Provide students with the theory and the basics of image processing
  • Understand different issues affecting images and videos in an investigative context
  • Acquire an in-depth knowledge of all product features
  • Work effectively on real cases and be able to testify on the results

Below is a list of some of the next scheduled classes. For more details and to register for any of these classes please click here.

Upcoming Classes

Amped FIVE

January 24-26, 2017 / Henderson, NV, USA
Instructor: Jim Hoerricks

February 27-March 01, 2017 / Henderson, NV, USA
Instructor: Jim Hoerricks

March 02-03, 2017 / Henderson, NV, USA
Instructor: Jim Hoerricks

March 14-17, 2017 / Trieste, Italy
Instructor: Stefano Bianchi

March 27-29, 2017 / Garland (TX) Police Department, USA
Instructor: Jim Hoerricks Continue reading

Insurance companies look to forensics to cut fraud and abuse – and save time

When a driver wraps his car around a tree, the damage is likely rather obvious. Same again for a head-on collision at high speed. There’s not much car left to repair, so the insurance companies will likely pay out on the policy.

But in today’s app-driven world, minor dents and scratches are now being handled by the policy holder through the use of mobile device apps. Simply snap a picture or video of the damage and upload it to the insurance company. Claims are processed the same day and your money arrives quickly. Folks love this mobile claims processing functionality so much that insurance companies are featuring their time-saving apps in their advertising.

Whilst customers love this convenience, so do crooks. It turns out that fraudsters are using photo editing software to create fake photo evidence in support of bogus claims. This type of activity affects all policy holders as losses are spread out across all customers, keeping rates higher than they should be in a fraud-free world.

Enter Amped Software.

Without naming names (I don’t want to ruin the fraud-catchers’ fun), our software is being employed as both a risk management function (catching fraud), as well as to assist claims processors when folks turn in proprietary CCTV files in support of claims. Continue reading

Amped Authenticate Update 8782: Enhanced PRNU, LCD Recapture Detection and many more filter improvements

At Amped Software we are continually researching new methods to help you in your analysis. Designing, testing and then implementing new features and filters is a continuous process. When complete, we get these out to you as soon as we can.

In this post, I will be introducing you to some of the latest developments in Amped Authenticate.

For those new to this blog, or the software, Amped Authenticate is a software package that enables you to conduct forensic image authentication and tamper detection on digital photos and documents. Today, digital images are key sources of evidence in criminal activities. But the creation and manipulation of those images is relatively easy to do, so it is vitally important that images being used as evidence are what they say they are. Amped Authenticate is the only software in the market that includes, in one single and easy to use package, all the scientific tools and functions necessary to discover tampering on an image or determine originality, and to verify if a picture has been generated by a specific device. 

This update includes some very big improvements and additions.

Fourier

Amped FIVE users will be aware of how powerful the Fourier domain is in identifying and then removing frequency noise in images. This frequency noise can also be used to identify signs of LCD Recapture. As a result, this filter is now included in Authenticate.

fourier-blog1a

Continue reading

Computational Photography is the Biggest Upcoming Authentication Challenge

mobile-photography

I assume most of the readers of this blog are video / photo / gadget / phone / camera geeks. I am sure you didn’t miss the reviews of the latest Apple iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel phones. They have a lot in common, but there is one major aspect that is interesting for our applications: things are slowly moving from photography to computational photography. We are no longer just capturing light coming from optics and applying some minor processing to the pixel values to make the picture more pleasant to the viewer.

Phones must be slim and light and yet we still expect to have near DLSR quality. So, now computational photography comes into play. The iPhone 7 Plus, for example, uses two different cameras to calculate a depth of field and then tries to simulate the “bokeh” effect via software you would normally get in bulky professional cameras, by using fast optics at a wide aperture.

On the other side, when you hit the button on the Pixel phone, it is capturing a bunch of pictures and then decides what to keep from every picture in order to give the user the final result.

This challenges the concepts of originality and authenticity. The light captured by the camera is no longer the output of the photography process, but just the first step of a more complex process based on a multitude of factors. There is little doubt that this is just the beginning of a trend which will explode in the next few years. Continue reading

What PC do you have handy?

Customers often ask us about the hardware requirements for our products before purchasing. While we have some recommendation, the reality is that many of our customers use Amped FIVE (or our other products) on unbelievably old computers. Sure, Amped FIVE would be slower, but for working on low-resolution CCTV videos, even a 10-year-old PC with Windows XP (not recommended!) still works mostly fine.


I recently taught one of our courses at a customer’s premises. Since the class was quite full and they didn’t have enough recent laptops to bring into the training room, about half of the students had pretty old laptops. During the training, we normally provide the software installer and training examples on USB drives. Some people claimed that their PC was not able to see the drive. We figured out that they were using Windows XP SP2, they were not connected to the Internet and had not updated in ages. Continue reading